In Reggie Williams, another buy-low investment pays off for the Bay Area franchise.
By Jonathan Santiago / @ITSjonsantiago
Say what you will about Don Nelson’s second era with the Golden State Warriors. But, you can’t fault Nellie and his brain trust when it comes to discovering under-the-radar talent. Since returning to the coaching helm with the Warriors, Nelson and company have found themselves D-League and undrafted gems.
One such player who’s benefitted from Nellie’s confidence is guard Reggie Williams. After four seasons at the Virginia Military Institute, dubbed the West Point of the South, Williams went undrafted in 2008. He led Division I college basketball in scoring for two-straight seasons, but his gaudy numbers weren’t enough to ensure job security at the NBA level. So, Williams took his talents overseas to Europe, where he spent a season playing for JDA Dijon Bourgogne in France.
Fast-forward a year later and Williams found himself in the D-League, drafted by the Sioux Falls Sky Force. It didn’t take long for him to find his niche in the NBA’s minor league system. He averaged 26.4 points in 31 contests while a member of the Sky Force.
Despite his impressive showing, it took a while for NBA teams to take notice. His play left him wondering what more he could do. In Williams’ mind, he was doing everything asked of him – playing hard and taking the advice of what scouts and coaches told him to improve.
“There was a point in the D-League where I got upset and frustrated,” Williams said, recounting his experience prior to making the Warriors roster. “I kept seeing guys and guys get called up before me.”
But he finally got his chance on the NBA stage when the Warriors signed him in early March and guaranteed his contract a couple weeks later.
Williams played so well to end the season that several of his teammates became expendable. Corey Maggette was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks. Kelenna Azubuike was part of a package that brought David Lee to the Bay. And sharpshooting two-guard Anthony Morrow was left free to sign with the New Jersey Nets.
If his Summer League is any indication, Warriors brass should feel confident about their decision to commit to Williams. In Las Vegas, he averaged 22.6 points per game while shooting 41 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.
His persistence and resolve to make the League are testaments to his character.
Humility is a trait that most folks perceive athletes to lack nowadays. But for the Warriors latest D-League find, that’s not the case. He doesn’t forget about his roots.
“Not only am I doing it for myself,” Williams began. “I’m doing it for my friends back at home. They hit me up all the time and say ‘Man, we feel like we made it to the NBA just because you’re there!’”
Many young men with hoop dreams carry themselves with a sense-of-entitlement these days, that they deserve to play at basketball’s highest level.
But not Williams.
It didn’t matter that he was coming to a team that was clearly out of the NBA Playoff race. It didn’t matter that he was going to play for a coach, who by the perceptions of many, was going through the motions in the second-to-last year of his contract. It didn’t matter that he was going to a squad that had more guard depth than your typical NBA roster.
Rather, the Warriors guard was just happy to have the opportunity.
“I basically was just going bananas,” Williams said, his face lighting-up remembering the day he was called up from the D-League. “When my coach gave me the information, I was just running around, screaming and yelling.”
With an expanded role expected for next season, Williams’ stock is at an all-time high. For now, the D-League’s latest success story is just relishing the moment.
Jonathan Santiago also co-hosts the weekly Davis Sports Deli Podcast, which can be found here.